Expect to see some more out-of-town guests at the Pennington County Jail. At its meeting Tuesday, May 24, the Pennington County Board approved a contract with the Lake of Woods County Sheriff’s Office to house some of its inmates here.

As part of the one-year contract starting Wednesday, June 1, Lake of the Woods County will pay $55 per bed per inmate to Pennington County. The former will pay $125 per bed per day for special needs inmates. It will also pay for three beds per day even if no Lake of the Woods County inmates are being held here at the time. Lake of the Woods County will be responsible for medical costs associated with its inmates while they’re housed here.

Sheriff Ray Kuznia said the Lake of the Woods County Jail is moving to a 72-hour facility for a year. The contract automatically renews unless one of the parties terminates the contract.
Kuznia told commissioners that the jail population was in the 40s over the past week. That number includes some inmates from the Beltrami County Jail and Northwest Regional Corrections Center. Those entities also pay $55 per bed per day.

Sometimes the Marshall County Jail houses inmates here. That jail is a 90-day facility, and one of its inmates was recently transferred to the Pennington County Jail since he was close to the maximum allowable number of days. The Pennington County Jail houses all female Marshall County inmates since the latter jail can only house female inmates for a short period of time.

Emergency Management Director Erik Beitel provided an update on the county’s response to flooding. Beitel and County Board Chairperson Bruce Lawrence met earlier that day with representatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Representatives of other large primary potential flood disaster applicants also attended the meeting.

Beitel said they provided a rough idea of their costs to FEMA and HSEM in what he referred to as a “pre-pre-pre preliminary damage assessment.” As of that day, a federal disaster hadn’t been declared. However, Beitel believed a federal disaster may be declared. If that occurs, eligible flooding-related costs would be 100% reimbursable.

Beitel initially thought that the county had $2.6 million in damage; however, he has since learned that amount is probably lower than he expected. He has been informed that some of the county’s damage may not qualify. Beitel anticipated that other federal or state programs may assist the affected entities.

Beitel expected that the first applicant briefing would occur sometime within the next 60 to 90 days. He encouraged more townships to submit their flood-related costs and damage to him. Even if the amount were only $100, Beitel encouraged townships to contact him since their costs can be listed in an application with totals from other townships.

Kayla Jore, director of Inter-County Nursing Service, provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic. She said there have been 44 cases of COVID-19 in the county since the beginning of the week prior to her update.

Inter-County Nursing, located on the lower level of the Government Center, continues to hold COVID-19 vaccine clinics. The clinics will be held Fridays, June 17, July 22 and Aug. 12, from 1 to 4 p.m. Primary and booster COVID-19 vaccinations are available. Booster vaccinations are now available there for kids ages 5 to 11 if they completed their primary series at least five months earlier.

County Board approved donating $4,000 to a mental health awareness event scheduled Tuesday, Aug. 23 in Thief River Falls. Kevin Hines will speak about suicide prevention. Hines had attempted to commit suicide by jumping off of the Golden Gate bridge.

The next County Board meeting is scheduled Tuesday, June 14 at 10 a.m. at the Justice Center.